10/10/2005 | Share this article:In Our Time
It was Wordsworth who first delineated the interdependence of religiosity and the infantile ego. In his 'Immortality Ode' (1807), he affirmed famously that we come into the world 'trailing clouds of glory.from God, who is our home,' so that 'Heaven lies about us in our infancy!'
And the necessary loss of the infantile illusion of centrality involved in maturing - a process, as this column remarked last week, marked by a growing grasp of the facts of differentiation and otherness, and a consequent diminution of the infantile ego - was one he lamented:
'Shades of the prison-house begin to close/ upon the growing boy'; until the adult perceives the divine light 'fade into the light of common day.'
Nonetheless, Wordsworth was determined to celebrate not only 'those shadowy recollections' of our participation in the Godhead, but also what might be termed 'life after God':
'Though nothing can bring back the sight/ Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower,/ We will grieve not, rather find/ strength in what remains behind.'
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